‘Can’t you speak up’, my best friend’s dad would roar, ‘is that how you greet an elder’? My three-year-old self would then duck behind my mother in a futile attempt to escape his scowling face. I would then try my best to gather some lost courage and reply. ‘Good afternoon sir’ I would bravely cry as I cowered behind the hem of my mom’s dress. It wasn’t the first time he did this and though he had since stopped, my guts take a dive every time I see him. My mom like clockwork would laugh at the situation, pat me on my head and reply ‘Toks you are a bully oo’, I didn’t understand why she did that. I couldn’t. Why would my mom laugh at my pain? Why would she laugh at my fear? Looking back now, it is amazing to think that as scared of him as I was then, I would still push to go see my best friend. This, however, is not a story of bravery. It is a story of fear - crippling fear. My mom once told me that in my first two years on earth, flowers terrified me. She told me this laughing of course, and I can only imagine how she laughed at this silly fear when I was a two-year-old child. Later on, the wooden bust statuettes my paternal grandparents littered around to decorate their house scared me stiff. Till tomorrow I have this sinking feeling in my stomach every time my parents call me privately into their room. I was barely four years old when I learnt to ride the bicycle. In the beginning, I used to push my bike up gentle slopes and then glide down. However, when the ground was even, I would push myself with my stick-like legs trying to gather enough momentum to propel the bike. Soon after though, my training wheels fell off and if I wasn't super careful, the metal that held the training wheels dug into my flesh as I paddled along. My fear of getting injured, coupled with the fear that my friend would be the coolest kid on the block if I didn’t beat him, reduced my learning curve. Unfortunately for me, my friend still learnt faster than I did. I was once scared of love. Ironically, this stemmed from seeing my parent's marriage work almost flawlessly. Falling in love with an imperfect person terrified me but, soon the fear of losing that love grew stronger than my ideas on perfection. Now, I fight to silence the voices in and out of my head that tell me that long distance relationships never work out. My greatest fear, however, is this; that I would go through life not finding the work that makes me tick. It is me not finding purpose; it is me living for myself and not adding value to the people around me. This fear wakes with me in the morning and keeps me on my feet. In all honesty, I am a man of many fears. But if anything, these fears have made me more resolute. Maybe fear isn't so horrible after all.
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